Lakers: How Kobe Bryant Served As Long-Term Mentor To Young Former Teammate

The Black Mamba had an outsized influence on this colleague.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant served as a mentor to many of the young players he was surrounded with during his final years on the club. Now-Minnesota Timberwolves starting point guard D’Angelo Russell was selected by LA with the second pick in the 2015 draft out of OSU. His first NBA season would be Bryant’s last.

Recently, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bovada Sports spoke with Travis Singleton of Sneaker Reporter about Russell’s relationship with Bryant, which apparently continued long after Russell had been traded to the Brooklyn Nets and out of LA in 2017. 

“You could tell [Russell] has that ‘Mamba Mentality,’ you know,” Singleton said. “And his vibe with the ‘Mentality’ is ‘ice in my veins.’ So at the end of the day, just being around Kobe, his presence — when you’re around greatness all the time, you’re going to want to be great, you know what I’m saying? So I think the time [with the Lakers] really helped out, and I know Kobe was a huge mentor to him, somebody that he definitely talked to on the daily… picking his brain and stuff when he was in LA. But I can’t think of another player off the top of my head there, I’m pretty sure there are, but I can’t think of another player that’s been in both of the big time markets, LA and then New York.”

“So when you have those two markets and when you play as good as you did when he was an All-Star back in your backyard in BK, then it’s like you can continue to transcend and make that jump that you want to be one of those names in the league that people really look out for. So I think… the sky’s the limit for him. It’s just [that] he needs the perfect situation. And I think Minnesota has that so he just got to continue to keep grinding here, and I would love to see them renew his contract and get that extension going to keep him in Minnesota, because I feel like this is where he belongs.”

Incidentally, Russell could actually be an interesting potential trade target for the Lakers, who could use an upgrade at the point guard position. The 26-year-old is currently on the final season of a four-year, $117.3 million contract he inked while with the Golden State Warriors, and is eligible for a veteran’s extension through the rest of 2022-23. LA could also try to recruit him in free agency, though it may have limited cap room to use.

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